Interpreter For LA Dodgers Star Allegedly Stole Millions For Illegal Sports Betting

Written By Phil West on March 22, 2024
Shohei Ohtani during one of the Dodgers' first 2024 games in Korea.

Major League Baseball superstar Shohei Ohtani signed a record-breaking $700 million contract with the Los Angeles Dodgers last December. With that type of wealth, he could easily not realize a few million is missing.

Which is what his lawyers are alleging happened. Ohtani’s lawyers are alleging his interpreter stole massive amounts of money to fund bets placed with an allegedly illegal bookmaker targeted in a federal investigation.

Technically, all sports betting in California is illegal. Lawmakers have been unable to pass legislation legalizing the activity. Additionally, non-Government attempts at legalization failed spectularly as well.

In 2022, the tribes and commercial operators both backed their own sports betting ballot initiatives. Voters overwhelmingly said “no” to both proposals.

At the end of 2023, a group of businessmen tried to take up a sports betting ballot initiative. But their attempts received significant pushback from the tribes and they ceased efforts at the start of 2024.

Allegations came during MLB’s opening games

The allegations come while Ohtani’s Dodgers traveled to South Korea for MLB’s opening series against the San Diego Padres. Ohtani’s interpreter is Ippei Mizuhara, a longtime friend.

According to Ohtani’s camp, Mizuhara stole money from the Dodgers’ star player to place bets with Mathew Bowyer. Bowyer is an Orange County resident suspected of being a bookmaker.

The Berk Brettler law firm in West Hollywood represents Ohtani. The firm released a statement to the Los Angeles Times.

“In the course of responding to recent media inquiries, we discovered that Shohei has been the victim of a massive theft and we are turning the matter over to the authorities.”

The story went on to note,

“The investigation into Bowyer involves the same prosecution team that has targeted a multimillion-dollar illegal sports gambling scheme anchored in Orange County, according to The Times’ sources and court records. At least a dozen people have been charged in that wider probe — including ex-Dodger Yasiel Puig, who has pleaded not guilty — that centered on a bookmaking operation led by former minor league baseball player Wayne Nix of Newport Beach.”

Authorities haven’t charged Bowyer with a crime yet, according to his Irvine-based lawyer Diane Bass. She also said her client never had any contact with Ohtani.

Mizuhara’s actions likely starts a larger investigation

The Dodgers fired Mizuhara on Wednesady after the allegations surfaced. In addition to the alleged theft presumably triggering the move, Major League Baseball is particularly on guard against gambling.

Its rulebook states, “Any player, umpire, or Club or League official or employee, who shall bet any sum whatsoever upon any baseball game in connection with which the bettor has a duty to perform, shall be declared permanently ineligible.”

While it’s not yet clear whether Mizuhara placed bets on baseball games, the rulebook also notes, “Any player, umpire, or Club or League official or employee who places bets with illegal book makers, or agents for illegal book makers, shall be subject to such penalty as the Commissioner deems appropriate in light of the facts and circumstances of the conduct.”

Photo by AP Photo / Lee Jin-man
Phil West Avatar
Written by
Phil West

Phil West is a longtime journalist based in Austin, Texas, whose bylines have appeared in The Daily Dot, Nautilus, Pro Soccer USA, Howler, Los Angeles Times, Seattle Times, Philadelphia Inquirer, San Antonio Express-News, Austin American-Statesman, and Austin Chronicle. He has also written two books about soccer.

View all posts by Phil West
Privacy Policy